Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 10, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

OBAMA'S KIDS....Andrew Sullivan goes ballistic about the Obama family interview with Access Hollywood:

I can barely credit that Michelle Obama agreed to this and that Barack Obama went along with it — it's not what they would have done a few months ago. One great aspect of the Obama marriage has been the way in which they appear to have brought up their daughters as very regular girls, down-to-earth, normal and sane. Displaying them in this way was bad judgment and poor parenting. Fame is a toxin. Children deserve to be protected from it as much as they would from lead paint.

I gather that a fair number of people feel the same way, and even Obama himself now says he wouldn't do it again. Am I living in a bubble when I say that I'm just flabbergasted by this reaction?

I mean, have you seen the interview? To call it a puffball is to insult puffballs everywhere. "What do you do that makes your parents mad?" "Do you think it would be cool to live in the White House?" That kind of thing. The kids were probably in front of the camera for about 20 minutes total, and were almost criminally sweet and charming the entire time. I think I might have sprouted a couple of new cavities just watching.

Now, sure: of course young kids should be generally off limits from the campaign press. But does that mean they should literally never be seen on TV? What's the harm? Families are a staple of American politics, people are legitimately curious about what Obama's family is like, and a few minutes with Maria Menounos is the safest, least toxic interview imaginable. It's the 21st century equivalent of one of those carefully staged Life photo spreads from the 50s. Shouldn't we all calm down about this?

Kevin Drum 1:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (94)

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Comments

If their girls get big heads in the future, its not going to be because of this interview. It's because their dad is going to be the most powerful person in the universe and because for a long time there are camera's pointed at them and their parents almost everywhere they go.

Posted by: matthewcc on July 10, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

JFK and Jackie Kennedy argued constantly about the amount of press coverage their kids should be getting. She wanted to shield them from all exposure; he understood that the press and Americans in general are ravenous for cute stories about cute kids and knew pieces about his children would appear with or without his and his wife's cooperation. So he preferred the tactic of allowing small, carefully managed stories and photo ops.

This is the first time we'll have had small kids in the White House since the Kennedys, except for Amy Carter, who was sort of a miniature adult. People find that cool. Unless the Obamas start marching their kids in front of the camera more often, I don't see the problem in their following JFK's lead.

Posted by: shortstop on July 10, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew doesn't have kids so it looks like his "outsiders" view is a bit idealized. They are made of rubber you know.

More interesting is the fame as toxin comment. Huh?

Posted by: The fake fake al on July 10, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

yes. please.

Posted by: uncle rameau on July 10, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ...

Posted by: Horatio Algiers on July 10, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's the Lindsey Lohan effect. We saw her in Parent Trap and normal and then BAM - hormones kick in and alchol and Hollywood.

So now, it's just dangerous to get kids in that frame of mind apparently. I think this honestly is an inside thing; because before reading Sullivian's blog everyone whose seen it loved the kids and thought it was sweet.

What bothers me more are all these Obama's hubris and the cocky stories coming back, lol. They seem to come in waves just before a major press freakout.

Posted by: Rhoda on July 10, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

No, it's not a big deal, but it also would be preferable if famous people tried to keep their children out of the news, especially when they are as young as Obama's kids. I was surprised he agreed to this.

Posted by: Will Allen on July 10, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew Sullivan calm down? Then what would he write? Excitability is what he does, isn't it?

Posted by: Doug on July 10, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Agree 100%.

Posted by: Rm on July 10, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Obama should shut his big yapper. He made a decision to do it, so stick with it. Lord, the interview was completely charming. Obama needs to stop regretting everything. I fear someone got his n*ts before Jackson could ever lay a hand on them.

Posted by: NHCt on July 10, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the world should keep their precious families out of the toxic gaze of pundits like Andrew Sullivan. Poor Andrew. Now he has no choice but to condemn the awful parents of these lovely, innocent children. What a shame. He doesn't want to have to, but the TeeVee compels him! The only question left is whether the blame lies more with naiive, cocky Barack, or his shadowy puppeteer of a wife.

Posted by: brent on July 10, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

It's fake outrage. Sully just wants to get those kids on Bill O'Reilly's show.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on July 10, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

If you watched any discussion by the interviewer herself, you would know that this was an accidental interview and not planned. The younger daughter, Sasha, ran in and sat between her parents, and the older one, Malia, joined in. Things just picked up from there. I have two daughters myself, and personally, I thought they were adorable. It showed what a normal, loving family is like.

There will be no more interviews with them, and there shouldn't be. They can wave from the stage after his acceptance speech -- and when he takes the oath of office.

I think the other media types are just jealous that they didn't get the interview.

Posted by: Molly Weasley on July 10, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

It's better than seeing them in their thongs, drunk in a bar somewhere!!!


I see no problem in one little interview.
People want to know the whole family.

Posted by: lilybart on July 10, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't seen the interview--just descriptions. But I have read some of the backstory, which was that Access Hollywood was following the family around for the whole day, which happened to be the birthday of one of the daughters, and the daughters sort of made themselves available for interviewing without much prompting. I also have 2 kids nearly the same ages as Obama's kids. My daughter, at least, is a publicity hog, or at least would be if we lived the type of lifestyle that allowed her to be one.

That is to say, that if reporters were following my family around, there's a high likelihood that my daughter, at least, would like nothing better than to be interviewed. We'd have to pull her away.

Perhaps given that the Obamas would prefer not to have their daughters interviewed, they'll be more diligent about putting them in situations where interviews are even possible, but if something like that were going on with my family, it would be like trying to get between Chuck Schumer and a camera...

Posted by: JMS on July 10, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

We all need to be outraged, because Obama is a Democrat.

Posted by: RZ on July 10, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Aw, let's just go ahead and admit it. Everything Mr. Obama says or does is either elitist or hypocritical or just plain bad.

There. We can move on now.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on July 10, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm flabbergasted by this reaction"

Sullivan's job is to be a contrarian. People who think they are smart and fair-minded can read him and feel above-the-rest. As is, "yeah, I'm a conservative, but I care about wire-tapping"... Or, "yeah, I'm an out gay man, but I'm a Republican".. Or, "I think Arabs need their asses kicked, but I will criticize the neocons/Israel too."

Obama is the shiny new thing, the media is largely enamored of him, Sullivan's job is to find faults with him.

Posted by: flubber on July 10, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Fame is a toxin, eh? Then why do you keep pursuing it, Andy?

Pundit, heal theyself.

Posted by: Cap'n Phealy on July 10, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

brent, you always make me grin.

Posted by: shortstop on July 10, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

The girls were adorable (counteracting lots of the GOP attempt to weird-ize the family), the "interview" was -- just as Kevin says -- the equivalent of a standard magazine spread, and this should be about the only time we see the Obama kids exposed to the media prior to the inauguration. In other words, a perfect strike for the Obama campaign on all levels.

How many other meaningless pundit worry-storms are we going to enduire between now and November?

Posted by: demtom on July 10, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Of course those in the media are critical. The interview only help's obama appear normal, down to earth, a regular dad/guy and his family pretty ordinary. That can only be beneficial to obama, seeing that it might cause many who are on the fence to realize obama really is pretty much just like them. So as McCanine is the media's darling (and I am sure Andrew has a huge mancrush on him) the media must belittle and badmouth this innocent bit of fluff out of the fear that it just might help obama if the public continues to see a fairly normal, non-elitist family.

Posted by: bubba on July 10, 2008 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

The interview only help's obama appear normal, down to earth, a regular dad/guy and his family pretty ordinary.

Aha! Which, when you think about it, shows rapier-sharp cunning on the part of these people we don't really know anything about. Why do they seem so very normal?

Posted by: shortstop on July 10, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin. This interview was a great chance to 'meet' the Obama kids. At some point we want to hear from them, right. And they were great so the curiosity is gone. Now they can stay in the background forever. Seriously.

And I was interested to hear that Barack doesnt care for ice cream and he chews boring mint gum.

Posted by: glutz78 on July 10, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

One great aspect of the Obama marriage has been the way in which they appear to have brought up their daughters as very regular girls, down-to-earth, normal and sane. Displaying them in this way was bad judgment and poor parenting.

Displaying them in what way -- that they're regular girls, down-to-earth, normal and sane?

Heaps better than Jenna and Not-Jenna making headlines for emulating their dad's drunken party antics.

Posted by: Gregory on July 10, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew needs to find something else to be outraged at. 40+ million people without healthcare, ill-concived war draining our economy of money, dead soldiers who should have never been fighting in Iraq. Take your pick!

Posted by: Jason on July 10, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

As long as the Obama children are not allowed to stand in front of the podium and make faces during Barack's inauguration speech, like the Giuliani boy did when his father was sworn in as mayor of NYC, then America has nothing to worry about.

Posted by: Brojo on July 10, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Because we all know how well the Bush Twins' media scrutiny free upbringing shaped up...

Posted by: anon on July 10, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Contrarian is merely another name for someone who really doesn't believe in anything.

Kevin, other than the obvious, and pathetic, answer that you continue to link to Sullivan simply for the "red meat" value to your blog, why the fuck do you lower yourself?

Sullivan is a piece of shit. His public persona is a joke ('ol "milk cheeks"). He's been a right wing useful idiot for a decade. He's a lousy writer. He helped destroy what little value the TNR had left during his tenure as so-called editor.

Who cares what he has to say about Obama?

Posted by: Jeff II on July 10, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Aha! Which, when you think about it, shows rapier-sharp cunning on the part of these people we don't really know anything about. Why do they seem so very normal?

Because atheist Muslim African-nationalist Islamofascistcommunists have been given special secret training in how to appear very normal. Geez, don't you know anything?

Posted by: Stefan on July 10, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Shouldn't we all calm down about this?"

Also, you really shouldn't use "we". Andrew Sullivan is his own unique PoS. What he choose to hyperventilate over is his own unique PoS business.

Posted by: anon on July 10, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Once again shortstop leaves me with nothing to add (damn her). And NHCt is spot on as well. Two questions: Why didnt the girls attack their dad for his FISA vote? Are they turncoats as well? /sarcasm

Posted by: keith g on July 10, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think this is such a big deal. That said, although politicians' families get a lot of exposure in US presidential campaigns, there is a line between cute pix of the little kids and actual interviews and Obama just crossed it, which he now apparently realizes. I rarely find myself agreeing with Sullivan, but this was a tacky albeit trivial move on Obama's part, and showed poor judgment from him and his wife. Onward.

Posted by: Hypatia on July 10, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

It seems pretty unanimous in the comments, and I agree also, that this was not a big deal and I think a good idea. At some point I think they needed to do this to introduce the Obama family to the nation. Might as well be now, early in the General campaign, before things become even more heated and crazy. And the interview was soft and good.

So why did Obama come out and announce it was a mistake? Even if he did think so, why not just say "we did it once because we thought it was appropriate for Americans to meet our family but now its done and needn't happen again".? Any ideas?

Posted by: kahner on July 10, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with you Kevin. I have no idea what is the big deal. They answered a few inane questions in predictably kid-lie ways. No one is the worse for it. It's over.

Posted by: scruncher on July 10, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think Obama regretted doing it because of any political considerations -- you are right that it was a puffball interview and that the results for his campaign are likely to be almost totally positive.

But what Andrew Sullivan is suggesting, and what Obama might be thinking, is that if the two young girls were to keep this sort of thing up and become media darlings of a sort, it could threaten that very "down-to-earth" character that they displayed in the interview. In other words, as the first commenter hinted at, he doesn't want their heads to start getting big because the press finds them so charming.

I think keeping them insulated from the media is a wise instinct, not for the sake of the campaign, but for the sake of the girls remaining, to the extent possible, regular kids.

Posted by: Andrew on July 10, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, 30 comments in and no mention of FISA? Let me help... Obama hates the 4th Amendment so much I bet he even has his daughter's Myspace passwords. What about his daughter's right to privacy? Hmm? Or do "Typical" "Sweeties" not count?

Aw, hell, I suck at this. Shitheads.

Posted by: enozinho on July 10, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

keith, so you find the Obamas' very normality sinister, too, eh? Well, so many of us can't be wrong. There's something not right there.

Did Obama really say it was a mistake to do this the first time, or did he just say he wouldn't repeat the event? Perhaps Sully would tell me, but I can't bear the thought of giving that overgrown Andrew Giuliani any attention.

Posted by: shortstop on July 10, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, that was quite good, eno. The "typical" "sweeties" part especially rocked.

Posted by: shortstop on July 10, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

The negative reaction is mostly faux anti-Obama stuff -- Malking etc would be whining about ANYTHING the Obamas choose to do. Phony concern.

The kids are cute. It didn't hurt to have them interviewed in this puff piece. It is probably wise to not do this too much -- but if their Dad becomes President, they will be contending with a lot of press --

Posted by: Artemesia on July 10, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hey their father is running for president one interview isn't going to kill them. Sounds to me like a bunch of finger pointing assholes who don't have kids and watch fox news or the wacos who supported hilary and lash out at every lame thing that makes the news playing up to the McBushies like a bunch of chumps and suckers.
If you want to protect kids get the violence off tv at least the commercials now thats toxic exposer.

Posted by: on July 10, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK
One great aspect of the Obama marriage has been the way in which they appear to have brought up their daughters as very regular girls, down-to-earth, normal and sane.

Uh, as opposed to the ordinary spoiled rockstar ways associated with the kids of constitutional lawyers/writers who spoke at a party convention once? I mean I hear MTV started out the project that later became "the Osbourne's" with a constitutional lawyer but then quickly realized it would never get it passed the FCC censors.

Presidential candidates get to be rockstars retroactively now? Americans really need a proper royal family!

Posted by: asdf on July 10, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on July 10, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

It is becoming increasingly clear that McCain will do anything and say anything that he thinks will get him elected. This man of principle who was going to change the way things are done on Washington is just another pandering politician. He is smart enough to know that there are not enough Americans who still buy the "Maverick" line so he is "refining" his spiel, ie lying, to expand his appeal. He is just another Dole, Perot, Buchanan, Ford, who reads horribly off the teleprompter.

Posted by: enozinho on July 10, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

MHR:

It is becoming increasingly clear that Barack will do anything and say anything that he thinks will get him elected. [...] He is just another McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry who reads well off the teleprompter.

The big difference between Sen. Obama and those men is that Obama is going to win.

Posted by: jbryan on July 10, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew Sullivan is a dunce who writes something normal every 20 columns so people will take him seriously when he writes idiotic tripe.

Where was he when "Kid Nation" was on TV every week?

Who cares that Obama's kids said a few totally harmless things in response to a few harmless questions. Isn't it every American's dream (especially kids) to be on TV once and answer a few questions about their life or their opinions? The only nightmare is when you get some kind of goon like Time Russert or Rush Limbaugh asking the questions.

Posted by: Swan on July 10, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

There are probably totally neurotic Republicans all over America practically tearing their hair out with jealousy over the fact that it was Obama's kids and not their kids who got to be on TV for a few seconds.

That's what 90% of the conservative movement has its origin in-- unreasoning jealousy.

Posted by: Swan on July 10, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Obama said he didn't want to expose his children to the press but he changed his mind and exploited his children on "Access Hollywood". The next day he said that was a mistake and he wouldn't do that again. This is just another good example of Obama's SUPERIOR JUDGEMENT that he loves to tout. Another example of his SUPERIOR JUDGEMENT was asking Tony Rezko help him buy a House he couldn't afford in 2005. He did this after reading about 100 articles in the Chicago papers about Rezko being investigated by the FEDS for Political Corruption. Obama and Rezko came up with a plan to get the House owner to split the parcel with the help of Michell Obama and her position on the Landmarks Commission in Chicago. They did the split in about a week and then Obama was able to buy the House for $1.65 million and Rezko's wife bought the vacant lot for $625,000. The Rezko's were broke and in legal trouble so they got a loan of $3.5 million from Nadhmi Auchi, a middle-eastern Billionaire, so they could pay the down-payment for the lot, everybody loves to help a U.S. Senator

Posted by: jim aaron on July 10, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

The media were jealous that the interview was gotten by Access Hollywood - as if their shows are higher quality. My favorite of the complaints was that the interviewer was not hard hitting enough. Maybe she should have asked the girls when they last wet the bed?

Posted by: BernieO on July 10, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Jim Aaron--
Unlike the rumors involving McCain's kids and gambling addiction, the rumors involving Obama's house have been investigated up and down, and your lies have been shown to be lies.

Posted by: reino on July 10, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Displaying them in this way was bad judgment and poor parenting. Fame is a toxin.

So ... we're taking parenting tips from the far right's favorite HIV+ barebacker?

... ok, then.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 10, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin...WHEN will you understand? This is Andrew Sullivan we are talking about. He is doing what he always does--strike a position contrary to the conservative position (this proves to naive folks like you that he is really the thoughtful and moderate sort of conservative), then slowly but surely he will get "disenchanted" based on stupid, non-sensical events and stories like this. In the end, he will declare his position to be firmly within conservative orthodoxy. All the while, conning you and other mushy moderates to believe that he arrived at his conclusion only thru lots of intellectual wrestling with the issues.

He does this all the time. He's been doing it for years. Why do you (and the rest of the media) continually fall for this conjob?

Posted by: danno on July 10, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

I love when the trolls bring up Rezko. You'd almost think they forgot about Rezko's connections with Karl Rove and Dennis Hastert that would inevitably come out with any serious investigation.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on July 10, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Randy Andy regrets appearing in those Gap ads. Fame is such a toxin, you know.

Posted by: Boots Day on July 10, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Occasional glimpses of the kids and the whole family are fine. Otherwise, Obama will be accused by Drudge of "hiding" his family, as Drudge did to Howard Dean. It will be strongly implied that there is something "not normal" about Obama's children if he does not occasionally allow the media access to them. Now, when will the media be allowed to see Bridget McCain?

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on July 10, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Kids say the darnedest things." There is a danger the kids could say something embarrassing such as, "Oh, yes. We know uncle Tony Rezko. He brung a big pile of money an' daddy bought me a bicycle."

Posted by: Luther on July 10, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

The interview was fine. The girls were great. I think Obama just went into protective dad mode when he saw the big media fuss the whole thing generated. I think now that it's been done it's best to keep them away from the press. They're very young and it's better for them.

Posted by: Delia on July 10, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Sullivan doesnt have kids and according to strasmelons expertise theory on commenting he shouldnt be commenting on such issues since he has no expertise in the area.

Posted by: Jet on July 10, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

I can see Sully's aversion to fame-as-toxin. That's fine just as a general matter, if a tad febrile. But what does it have to do with the Access Hollywood interviews or parental judgment? Do the girls not know their dad is famous? That he's historic? Of course they do, and that's normal for them.

That daylong AH tag-along with the Obamas on July 4th was just that--a day to capture footage with time for a sitdown. But the girls elbowed their way into the interview--as any kids will do when a parental lap (probably a scarce resource during presidential campaigns) and Maria Menounos become available.

Anyway, broadcast images and words merely inform a curious world.

What infects girls with the fame toxin happens at home, privately. A fame-toxic family would--well, this could happen in any number of ways. It's easy to imagine. Michelle Obama would have YouTube on a constant loop. She'd talk about it constantly. She'd obsess over the centrality of celebrity.

She'd pore over the magazine coverage and leave them out for her daughters to leaf through. She might begin to criticize the girls' appearance or words, as though they were performing, not being kids.

She'd be insane to do this to the girls, and Michelle Obama is not insane.

Posted by: paxr55 on July 10, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Kids say the darnedest things." There is a danger the kids could say something embarrassing such as, "Oh, yes. We know uncle Tony Rezko. He brung a big pile of money an' daddy bought me a bicycle."

Wow. you're so funny and clever I forgot to laugh. Racist pig.

Posted by: lou on July 10, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Get a grip - I thought it was cute and ewarm and friendly and made me want to vote even more for Obama.

Posted by: beth on July 10, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew's outrage would have been better directed at Bush, when he condemned a lot of American adolescents to kill and be killed. And when his lies paved the way for lots of cute, warm and fuzzy Iraqi children to be slaughtered.

Obama hubris on wiretapping I can acknowledge. But Andrew's outrage sounds more like his own disdain for children than anything else.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden on July 10, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

If Yertle the Turtle look-alike Phil Gramm, keeps saying things like this, John McCain may lose the election by 20 percentage points, instead of only 10!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 10, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

The only reason you disagree with Andrew Sullivan is that you are a part of liberal fifth column out to subvert America and its Leader.

Posted by: urkel on July 10, 2008 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

stop paying attention to Sullivan. the guy's a cretin. He's not on our side. His support for Obama is just the pose of a prancing narcicist.

Posted by: Neil on July 10, 2008 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

I'll have to agree with most here, I too was amazed at the reaction by those who thought this was a bad idea, Barack included. While I could mostly care less who his kids are or what they think for that matter, I am curious and I thought it was a nice interview, it gave me a little insight in to the family, how they've raised their children and was a welcome change from the typical political interview. Not that I had an suspicions but they're a completely normal family with rather down to earth children. I think it was a perfectly reasonable interview, it was good and folks like Sullivan who react as if the sky is falling to EVERYTHING should really take a step back and calm the f down.

Posted by: tom.a on July 10, 2008 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

This was also a very unique day. His daughter's birthday, the ultimate family picnic holiday: the 4th of July. The whole atmosphere was a relaxed extended family reunion of sorts.

Given this level of informality, it seemed to me very natural to do a 'family' interview. And it was a 'family' interview. It was also a 'isn't this weird' type of interview. Like mommy and daddy are important? This is crazy! When do we get to have ice cream?

What is the downside? Lost focus on the issues. If the interview had stayed on Access Holywood, everything would have been fine from Obama's perspective. Politicians do interviews to target different audiences, but this one took up airtime on programs where Obama already gets full coverage.

Posted by: tomj on July 10, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

I read Sullivan daily and there are times I think he's simply overstimulated by his dazzling intellect. One of the problems with being a wordsmith is that sometimes verbal formulations write the idea for you. You can't help it. You're so good, you smooch the mirror.

As the commenter above notes, excitability is his forte. Unfortunately, it's fairly self-referential.

Posted by: walt on July 10, 2008 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

One of the problems with being a wordsmith is that sometimes verbal formulations write the idea for you. You can't help it. You're so good, you smooch the mirror.

And yet his handle while trolling for sex is "Raw Muscle Glutes." How to reconcile these notions?

Posted by: shortstop on July 10, 2008 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

All it needed was a little puppy to make it a Hallmark moment.

Posted by: lynn on July 10, 2008 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing that bothers me about the interview is Obama's about face regret the next day. Maybe in hindsight he wished they didn't do it, but it was cute, and benign, so just accept it, and get on with things. Despite the primary contest, he's obviously going to have a learning curve for the national race, and this is probably a small sample of the self-questioning he goes through. Too much of this in public, I'm afraid, will work against him.

Posted by: orion on July 10, 2008 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

He is just another McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry

And if that was true, the problem would be...?

Posted by: thersites on July 10, 2008 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

andrew sullivan is so plainly, sadly, achingly desparate to find a reason NOT to support Obama now that his hated nightmare monsters, The Clintons, have been destroyed. it's obvious every time Obama policies that are months old- like, mid-2007 months old- suddenly have derogatory right-wing nicknames, like when he calls Obama's perfectly reasonable "repeal Bush's tax cuts" plan a "soak-the-rich" plan that "punishes the successful". i suspect he'll find a reason to throw his support to the Libertarian party after the nominations, when he detects disturbing authoritarian tendencies in both parties. ie, Cass Sunstein's "Nudge" book will be declared to be paternalism at its worst, and he's an Obama economics advisor, and economic coercion is responsible for the mythical eurosclerosis, so Andrew Sullivan, lover of freedom, will shock everyone and be the center of attention by denouncing Obama.

Posted by: remember, he used to be in a position of authority at TNR on July 10, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of families. I would have liked to have the esteemed fourth estate interview Clinton daughter about her recollection of the trip with mum to the sniper zone.

Posted by: YY on July 10, 2008 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

There was a political upside to this -- Obama, who unlike some people I could name has only been married once, has a normal, wholesome, All American family. Seeing them together as a group, and having the kids say a few words, makes it very hard to sell the argument that he is somehow Unamerican. Unless, of course, one regards Mitt Romney's dog on the roof top routine or Rudy's three marriages and kids who hate routine as "All American." As a parent of kids just about the ages of Obama's kids, I don't see a problem with this type of interview. I agree with his assessment that once was probably enough.

Posted by: RP on July 10, 2008 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

The kids were cute and the interview was perfectly fine.. the annoying part of the interview was Michelle Obama speaking. No doubt Angelina Jolie isn't an important person, but the way Michelle says it makes her look elitist..

Posted by: Andy on July 10, 2008 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

I find Barack Obama's naivete about the national media to be one of his most charming features.

It's like he actually expects the media to behave like adults, even in the face of decades of the most foolish and idiotic hyperventilation.

Charming.

Posted by: John Gone on July 10, 2008 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

Andy needs to get outraged about the Obama kids so he doesn't have to think very much about how he helped cause things like this:

http://www.crooksandliars.com/2008/07/06/iraq-vet-made-famous-by-photo-dies-of-drug-overdose/

Janet Daley wrote a dishonest story and embarrassed the Post and the Pulitzer committee, but no one actually died or was even wounded. For that she never writes another word for publication.
Andy stokes the fires for a catastrophic war and just goes on writing, his lack of judgement equalled only by his lack of shame.

Posted by: on July 10, 2008 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Right. A President who is naive about the press and Washington. Charming.

Posted by: Pat on July 10, 2008 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

"I read Sullivan daily and there are times I think he's simply overstimulated by his dazzling intellect.One of the problems with being a wordsmith is that sometimes verbal formulations write the idea for you. You can't help it. You're so good, you smooch the mirror."

Congratulations, Walt. You just won my vote for the most grotesque comment of a grotesque political year. Andrew Sullivan is a tiresome sycophant. In a previous age he would have churning out laudatory bios on Stalin or Mussolini or whichever Great Man turned his head.

I didn't see the interview in question but I have no doubt it was very cute. Everything about our precious little Barack is cute. That's all we need to know, which is a good thing since we aren't likely to find out anything else.

Posted by: fred gill on July 10, 2008 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

I feel better now - I didn't understand the criticism and I didn't understand Obama's reaction. Maybe he was worried that the very sweetness of it might make such interviews seem like exploitation of his daughters. If he's not going to do another, I can see that but I thought too much was made of it.

It's damn hard for the Obama loathers to make him into Scary Radical Muslim Guy when they see him like that. That I know.

Posted by: Miss Otis on July 10, 2008 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

The thing that is going to stay with people, is not how cute and natural the kids were, but how relaxed Obama was. The level of trust in the family was astounding. That, and everyone who has a family will remember the wife and kids ganging up on dad for leaving his briefcase where it gets in the way.

Posted by: Eli Rabett on July 10, 2008 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

urkel you and I should talk. I know some dark alleys that would be private.

Posted by: Captain Dan on July 10, 2008 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

It's really, really simple.

You don't take kids to protests that they have no ability to understand the complexities of. And that means all protests. Kids don't have an ability and have not developed their own views. They are being used by their parents.

Similarly, no politician should use their kids.

It's pretty easy to define the line. And where as I was quite enthusiastic about Obama 6 months ago, the closer he gets to power the less confidence I have.

That's supremely disappointing.

Posted by: notthere on July 11, 2008 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

It's really, really simple.

You don't take kids to protests that they have no ability to understand the complexities of. And that means all protests. Kids don't have an ability and have not developed their own views. They are being used by their parents.

Similarly, no politician should use their kids.

It's pretty easy to define the line. And where as I was quite enthusiastic about Obama 6 months ago, the closer he gets to power the less confidence I have.

That's supremely disappointing.

Posted by: notthere on July 11, 2008 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

Apologies for double post. First one didn't show.

Posted by: notthere on July 11, 2008 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

Everybody chill. The kids were cute. What is the big deal?

Didn't think Michele' expressions at the kids were that great. She may have been a little PO'd at them.

Posted by: MLuther on July 11, 2008 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

Andrew Sullivan is serially frantically in love with someone or something, and then just as frantically falls out of love with the love object. The love-struck odes he was writing about Obama were plain embarrassing a couple of months ago, but it was obvious that eventually he'd turn on him, as he's now in the process of doing. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if Sullivan declares his "reluctant" support for McCain by election day.

If Obama was using his kids as constant campaign props there might be grounds for criticism, but anyone who hyperventilates about this one appearance is in need of professional medical help. Christ.

Posted by: bluestatedon on July 11, 2008 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

I see no problem here. It was just one little interview. It was Malia's birthday and they were having a good time. Big deal. If I was Obama I'd tell everybody to mind their own business.

Posted by: Rainy on July 11, 2008 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

Obama, who unlike some people I could name has only been married once

And there's the problem. He's too green. Who do you trust more on family issues, a guy who's barely dipped his foot into the marriage pond and has only produced two children, or a man who's walked the aisle twice--showing the leadership and judgment to know when to leave #1 for #2--and has seven kids to show for it? Experience counts.

Posted by: shortstop on July 11, 2008 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Calm down when we can hyperventilate? I think not!

Posted by: cowalker on July 11, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

I for one am OUTRAGED that Obama would use the fact that one his daughters is a lesbian to gain votes...

Oh, wait...

I am OUTRAGED that a mailer would go out to voters revealing that Obama has black daughters...

No, that's not it.

Oh, how could a responsible parent let his daughters use their public-funded Secret Service escorts as Designated Drivers on their pub-crawling expeditions...

Nah.

I've got nothin'.

Posted by: Jim 7 on July 11, 2008 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Fred Gill -- Irony detector working poorly today?

I didn't write the comment in question and I don't know anything about Walt, but you're obviously not a writer, or you would have understood. It is clearly, however, NOT a defense of Sullivan.

"The most grotesque comment" of the year??? On any blog or just this one? This, in the year of PUMAs, et al, is seriously frakking insane.

Posted by: Bob on July 11, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the reason they shouldn't have done the interview. They have now opened the kids up to the media.The media will now feel they are fair game.

Posted by: Teri on July 14, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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